Part 3 of “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer”: Product Design & Production

October 20, 2010 at 6:05 am Leave a comment

In recognition of Fair Trade Month, Marigold Fair Trade Clothing has a new blog series entitled: “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer.” Our beautiful, fashion-forward products represent a completely fair trade supply chain, and you can be assured that from the cotton seed to the finished product, your Marigold purchase is helping to transform the lives of workers and their communities. Holding true to our value of transparency, and in an effort to educate and advocate for the Fair Trade model, we are opening up, and explaining, our complete value chain to the consumer public.

In Part 3 of our series, we will explore the third major link in the supply chain, and the one that Marigold plays the biggest role in: Product Design & Production

Since 2004, Marigold has been working with a sewing co-op of over 300 women from the slums of Mumbai, India. The co-op provides an opportunity for severely disadvantaged women to craft their own economic independence by learning sewing and embroidery skills. After 6-9 months in the training program they join one of the 18 work groups which are autonomously run and coordinated by one woman whom is elected by each group.The women are also offered a number of social services including childcare, a nursery, educational sponsorship for their children, health training and a savings and credit organization.

Marigold first discovered the women’s co-op at the World Social Forum, an international conference of over 100,000 people representing the grassroots community from all over South East Asia and the World. At the time, the co-op was creating children’s toys but was interested into moving more into fashion, and as supporters of fair trade we had often found it difficult to find fashionable fair trade clothes in the North American market. We feel that meeting this group was in our destiny and saw a perfect opportunity to help grow the industry of ethical fashion by being using a Wholesaler model. The women at the heart of Marigold are in India, but Marigold helps bring their skills and traditional art forms to the North American market through the design of fashionable fair trade clothing and partnering with over 60 retailers around the country.

Unlike the traditional garment industry supply chain where clothing designers in North America only outsource production to developing nations, never meeting any of the workers, and certainly never consulting with the production staff, Marigold takes a different approach. Not only do we consult with local Indian artists in designing our housewares and clothing, we also know the names and faces of the women in the co-operative who actually make Marigold products. Instead of seeing the production phase as merely a means to an end that we should constantly strive to drive down costs and margins, we see our workers as partners and members of the Marigold family.

Rosy, one of our most tenured members, learned her sewing skills at the co-op and over the years became coordinator of one of the work groups, eventually earning the position of training center coordinator. Today she is a quality checker, responsible for making sure that Marigold’s products are made with the highest standards in mind. Rosy told us:

“It’s hard to imagine when I think back. Before, no one (in my household) was listening to me. Now if there is an issue and I am not there, they wait for me to hear what I have to say. I feel as if I am an independent woman taking care of my family and children. I feel as if the co-op has given me a platform on which to stand.”

Stay tuned for the last installment in this series, one that our readers are most familiar with, Part 4: Distribution & Consumer Purchasing. How have your feelings about Marigold products changed since you have been able to put a name and face to one of the workers? Does having this insight prompt you to question the status quo of the garment industry?

Entry filed under: Ethical Fashion, Fair Trade, Supply chain, Women. Tags: , , , , , , .

Part 2 of “Fair Trade From the Seed to the Consumer”: Cloth Production & Block Printing FREE FAIR TRADE FRIDAY Giveaway: Win a beautiful organic denim skirt!

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